Buffy ready

On the miseries of browsing for fic.

I have no fresh recs for you today, though I did a great deal of speed-reading through a lot of Mycroft + gen tagged fic on the AO3. This experience was miserable. Oh the badfic! Oh the fic that wasn't at all relevant to my interests despite its appearance in my searches!

I'm going to rant. Brace yourselves.

There is no way to search for Mycroft-centric genfic on AO3. None. You can search for fics with his character tag and the "gen" category tag, but this is a nearly useless filter. Here. Check it out.

Some observations on the results:

Mycroft isn't necessarily the main character in a listed story. He gets tagged as present even when he's an incidental character.
Relationshippy fic is tagged as gen. The presence of pairing tags with slashes between the names (Sherlock/John) is not at odds with the "gen" tag as far as the archive is concerned.
Crossovers are included with the default search; there's no way to get rid of them.
The "Case Fic" tag looks very useful. I'll start searching for that.
Why is a "mystery work" that I can't even click on to read shown in the search results? Talk about useless.
Phrase-length free-form tagging is lovely as an indicator of which stories to not bother clicking on at all, but neither a help nor a hindrance in the search. I wouldn't bother suppressing it.

In the end, I'm left doing a FF.net-style browse down the list, reading summaries to figure out which stories I want to read. However, there's far more noise in the list because FF.net allows at most two characters to be attached to the fic. So if somebody marks a story as featuring Mycroft, it probably does.

In fact, here's the FF.net Mycroft listing. Dude, why the hell was I bothering with wading through the AO3? That list is obviously far more relevant to my interests, right there on the first page. There's a significant content overlap between the two archives but FF.net makes it easier for me to find what I want. Yeah, it doesn't let me filter out gen vs shippy fic, but as we've seen, AO3 doesn't really either. It merely makes me hope that I can.

And ff.net is faster.

In the end, I think relying on a trustworthy rec list is the best option. I was willing to read every single Giles story in existence hunting for good ones, so I was writing some of those rec lists. I am not that much into this fandom. I read a story last night and was out the very instant I saw the writer use "taught" when they meant "taut". No patience.

I'm writing post-Cruciamentum Giles/Buffy right now, by the way. Yes, that demon-transformation soul-bonding wingfic is post-Helpless. Have been challenged to include knotting in it, but no, it's not that sort of story.
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That's an interesting insight! If you're reading for tropes, AO3 gives you a better browsing experience. If you're reading for specific characters (as I very strongly prefer to do), FF.net gives you a better browsing experience.

Tags *can* do both tropes & characters, of course. If there were a way to tag "primary characters" or "primary pairing", AO3 would afford my method of browsing as well as yours. Or if convention were to tag in a more limited way (do not tag for incidental content/characters/etc) it would also work.
I too use AO3 to trawl for particular tropes. Also, I don't think ff.net handles RPF fandoms at all, although it's possible I'm just not looking in the right place.

I do very much like the "primary pairing" idea for AO3, though. It's discouraging to go looking for, say, a minor SPN het ship (all het ships are minor in SPN) and get back results where in 75% of the cases the het ship is only background to the main slash one. I suspect there are a lot of fandoms that have that same problem.
FF.net limits its content: it doesn't want the explicit adult stuff and I don't think it wants RPF either. It also bans fandoms where the owners/authors are known to disapprove. Anne Rice fandoms, for instance. So AO3 is always going to have a broader range of content possible. It's still an order of magnitude or two smaller overall, though.